Never count out the champion, right? Reigning Big Ten tourney champ Ohio State rallied from 18 points down in the second half to top Nebraska, 71-67, and advance to Saturday’s semifinals. The Buckeyes will play Big Ten regular-season champ and rival Michigan in the first of two semifinal games Saturday. Get Tom Dienhart’s instant reaction to Ohio State’s win in this post.
Key moment: Leading by nine points, and with a chance to push it to 11, with just under eight minutes remaining, Nebraska’s Terran Petteway lobbed a pass to Walter Pitchford, who tried to complete a highlight-reel alley-oop. He missed it, and Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross turned it into an And-1 play on the other end of the floor. That’s a five-point swing, and that was the play that really seemed to turn the tide in the Buckeyes’ favor.
Key player: LaQuinton Ross. He had 26 points and 13 rebounds. Last night, he had 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. The guy is becoming a flat-out stud. Also gotta mention little-used Amedeo Della Valle, who played a huge role off the bench in notching 12 points and six rebounds.
Key shot: Sam Thompson took a pass from Shannon Scott and slammed it home to cut Nebraska’s lead to 58-56 with 4:29 to go. The Huskers had led by as many as 18 points in the second half. The emphatic dunk sent a message that momentum officially had swung in Ohio State’s direction. The Buckeyes subsequently closed the deal from there and squeezed out the triumph.
Key number: 36, Ohio State’s points in the paint. The Buckeyes time and again got to the hoop on drives. And 16 points were second-chance tallies, as the Buckeyes won the battle of the boards, 43-34.
Up next: No. 1 Michigan looms in the semifinals on Saturday. The Wolverines and Ohio State met just once this season with Michigan prevailing in Columbus, 70-60. When these rivals battle, it rarely disappoints.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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